For the average cookie-eating month, it’s perfectly sensible to keep a few pre-scooped cookies in the freezer for when you want a quick, freshly baked chocolate chipper. But December is no average cookie month. With a lot of cookies on the list and a short window for shipping, you’ll need a strategy. To give yourself the biggest leg up this baking season, you should bulk batch and freeze your cookie dough now.
Between party prepping, cookie shipping, and having enough to snack on during a delightfully awful Hallmark movie, you’ll end up going through way more cookies than you’d expect this month. Not all raw cookie doughs will freeze and thaw perfectly (usually those ones can be frozen after baking), but doughs with a high butter ratio are ideal candidates. Gingerbread, spritz cookies, sugar cookies, shortbreads, and cut-outs are all game.
Calculate approximately how many batches you need for the month. Take a gander at the cookie recipes you plan on using and find the yield. Most recipes have this at the very top or the very bottom. Then consider how you plan on shaping your cookies versus how the recipe intended. Are they rolled and cut with a two-inch cutter, but you use a five-inch cutter? Take this in consideration when you decide if one batch is enough, or if four batches is more appropriate. Once you’ve completed your calculations, make that cookie dough in the triple- or quadruple-batch size you need. It’s easier, and faster, to make a bulk dough one time than to start from the “soften the butter” step every single time.
Once you’ve mixed your dough, divide it into single- or half-batch portions and shape them into flat blobs on wax paper, plastic wrap, or parchment paper. (You should always flatten the dough into the shape you want it to roll into later; if you’re doing drop cookies, though, it doesn’t matter much.) A flat shape will freeze faster, and, more importantly, thaw faster. Make sure the dough flats are wrapped well, and lay them out on a sheet tray in the freezer for a half hour. Once they’ve firmed up, stack them into a plastic bag and close it tight. Store this in the freezer for up to three months (or longer, depending on a few factors, like how well it was wrapped, the type of dough, and who you’re talking to).
If you make a variety of cookie-dough flavors, batch those too, and freeze them in their own bag of flat disks. I usually make ten different types of cookies in the next few weeks, and although several are built from the same magical cookie dough base, I like to have a little bit of every flavor ready on a given day. My freezer usually contains three batches of butter cookie dough, a double batch of gingerbread dough, and four batches of basic shortbread dough.
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To thaw the dough, rummage through the freezer and transfer as many batches as you need into the refrigerator. Let this thaw overnight. If you don’t have that kind of time, you can thaw the dough out on the counter in an hour or so, just be mindful that the outer edge might become very soft depending on the type of dough you’re working with. If this happens, pop it in the fridge for a few minutes to firm it up evenly. Shape the dough, and bake as usual. At this point you could even freeze the now-baked cookies for your party next week, or to give them extra strength before packing and shipping. Bulk-freeze dough today and enjoy the rest of the holiday cookie season without frantically starting over every single time.